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Art. 69, Mayden, moder milde: Introduction

ABBREVIATIONS: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CCC: Corpus Christi College (Cambridge); CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); IMEV Suppl.: Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (Robbins and Cutler); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

Maiden, Mother Mild is an elegant macaronic prayer to Mary that serves as an opening invocation for King Horn, the long romance that follows it on fol. 83r. The lyric’s conclusion is linked verbally to Horn’s beginning by repetition of the thematic rhyme words synge and kynge. Its linguistic fluidity is remarkable: the poet’s “heartfelt simplicity of the English combines with the gracious euphony of the French” (Turville-Petre 1996, p. 202). The poem’s final stanza alludes to the Acta Pilati or Gospel of Nicodemus, and it seems to break the lyric’s sequence of Passion events, which run from the legend of the Instantaneous Harvest (perhaps) to the scene of Resurrection. In terms of Harley’s contents to this point, before the Ludlow scribe has copied the long romance of King Horn, the closing references to the Harrowing and Nicodemus’s Gospel create a rounding-out in the book, a reiteration of Marian praise and of Christ’s descent, as found much earlier, in the French ABC of Women and the English Harrowing of Hell (arts. 8, 21). It should be noted, too, that the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus in French prose (art. 3) appeared even earlier in Scribe A’s portion of the book. Another literary relationship for Maiden, Mother Mild exists in how a Middle English adapter fashioned its first stanza to provide a verse conclusion to Dan Michael of Northgate’s Ayenbite of Inwit (MWME 7:2258–59 [4]). For commentary on this poem, see MWME 11:4355–56; Fein 2007, pp. 86–87; Archibald, pp. 279–80; and Durling, pp. 290–91.

[Fol. 83r. IMEV, NIMEV 2039. MWME 11:4201 [28]. ANL 809. Sinclair 1979, no. 3166. Vising §184/78. Scribe: B (Ludlow scribe). Quire: 9. Meter: Macaronic lyric in six 8-line stanzas that alternate Middle English with Anglo-Norman, ababababa. English a-rhyme lines are tetrameter; French b-rhyme lines have six syllables. Layout: No columns. Editions: Wright 1842, pp. 97–98 (no. 35); Böddeker, pp. 220–22; Brown 1932, pp. 155–56 (no. 87); Brook, pp. 66–68 (no. 28); Silverstein, pp. 49–50 (no. 28); Jeffrey and Levy, pp. 41–43 (no. 3); Saupe, pp. 135–36 (no. 70); Millett, online edition. Other MSS: None. Translation: Jeffrey and Levy, pp. 41–42.]

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